Farmers, agronomists watch for possible winterkill signs


Farmers, agronomists watch for possible winterkill signs

An agronomist says the lack of snow cover and recent cold temperatures might lead to some alfalfa winterkill. Matthew Oehmichan with Short Lane Ag Supply in Colby, Wisconsin says, “We’ve had quite a bit of ice build-up on some of those fields, so I am a little bit worried about what those are going to look like.”

But, Oehmichan tells Brownfield farmers can have an alfalfa field that looks totally dead come back to life, so don’t be in a hurry to give up on the field after the snow melts.  “You do have a little bit of time to wait and see if you have that greening up, and then, let’s say that you are going to have some alfalfa plants lost. It doesn’t mean that you can’t go in there and make an economic application of putting grass out there to bolster that tonnage and that feed quality.”

Jason Cavadini is a forage researcher with the University of Wisconsin Marshfield Ag Research Station.  He says interseeding grasses like Italian ryegrass can help a field with some losses continue to produce quality forage and prevent future winter losses. “So, when you add grass, even if it’s only 25% of the stand, you would definitely have much better winter persistence.”

And Cavadini says research shows adding the grass to the alfalfa improves forage quality since the grasses are more digestible than alfalfa.  He says the different types of roots help manage the subsoil water better, which helps prevent the frost heaves that kill alfalfa.